Texas manager Ron Washington, in the face of Vladimir Guerrero's defensive debacle in Wednesday's World Series Game 1, elected to start David Murphy in left field for Game 2, with Nelson Cruz moving over to right. The defensive upgrade is almost undeniable, as Guerrero has showed his legs to be lagging far, far behind his still-cannonlike arm.
As for offense, can Murphy fill the void in the lineup left by Vlad's departure? How will Matt Cain's approach differ, if at all?
During the 2010 season, Guerrero posted a .287/.328/.482 line in 476 PA against right-handed pitchers, while Murphy, the lefty bat, had a .298/.368/.479 line in 342 PA against opposing righty hurlers. The slugging difference is negligible, but Murphy is clearly the more patient hitter. That isn't really hard to be, given how we're talking about Vladimir Guerrero here, but it's worth noting.
Guerrero continues to be the living definition of a "low ball hitter," and his damage contrasts nicely with Murphy's: where Vlad will hammer anything that deigns to venture off the corners and into the middle of the plate, Murphy will instead pounce on pitches on the upper and inside edges of the zone. Cain would do well to pepper the outer edge with his off-speed stuff against Murphy, and he'll be likely to avoid great damage.